Why Women Should Criticize Dove’s “Choose Beauty” Campaign

I have been working at an ad agency for one month. I’ve been a woman for 26 years. I believe this qualifies me to hate Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” campaign. However, this is more about how advertisers should be targeting women, and how they’re not doing it. Hold that thought— I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

By now, you’ve probably seen the video where women in foreign cities approach a set of doors at their local shopping mall and choose between the door labeled “beautiful” and the door labeled “average.” Dove attempts to tug on your heart strings when the women featured in the short film overwhelmingly choose “average” and have an internal battle between their self-confidence, self-perception and self-worth. They are selling soap for crying out loud. Soap.

I’m all for creative and emotional advertisements, but Dove took it too far here. When it comes to walking through a door, I’m going to walk through the one labeled “enter,” because I’m just trying to get inside the building. I am not, however, over-coming some self-perception issue. There is no epiphany here when applied to everyday real life.

For this ad to have really hit home, for starters, they could have made it at least appear like these women weren’t prepped and casted ahead of time. There’s just no way that such an extreme emotional reaction was provoked in these women by walking through a door with one word written above it.

I don’t believe it for a second.

One woman who walked through the “average” door exclaims, “I didn’t even hesitate!” Like she was shocked that she just walked through a door without thinking about it. Ground breaking stuff here.

Another woman says through a scowl and furrowed brow that makes you think she just found out society has failed her, “Am I choosing because of what’s constantly bombarded at me? What I’m being told that I should accept, or am I choosing because that’s what I really believe?”

That’s right, we’re all sheep. Herd us to beautiful cleanliness, Dove, please help us. We can’t survive advertisements telling us what beautiful is anymore, we need you to set the standard for us.

Here’s what I think— I’m all for breaking society’s beauty standards, but can’t we do it without making it seem like all women are weepy piles of nothingness with zero confidence?

Dove might be running a campaign to break one beauty standard, but it’s perpetuating another. Dove’s creating a storyline where it says confidence comes from the outside, not from within. Not all women are walking around with their self-confidence in the gutter because advertisements show unattainable body images.

Dove also put plus-size women in bras and underwear for their “Real Beauty” campaign on billboards all over major cities. People were outraged, how dare you make us look at overweight bodies in underwear— preposterous! I think what’s really wrong with those ads is that we’re still saying the same thing— this is what a beautiful plus sized woman looks like. Beauty is confidence, and beauty comes from the outside.

In an industry historically male-led, let’s create ads that truly empower women. It’s 2015, the Mad Men days are through and we’re still not doing a good enough job. Advertisers aren’t targeting women respectfully. If our advertisements are provoking emotional epiphanies as Dove would have us believe, then we really need to try harder and stop sending women back in time to an emotional Stone Age in these spots.

Sell us soap. Women love soap. But please, don’t sell me a crappy story line that’s supposed to make me reevaluate my self-worth.

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